WASHINGTON, DC – After President Trump finally signed the far-reaching 2021 Omnibus Appropriations Bills and COVID-19 Relief Package into law last night, U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) called on Congress to pass a bipartisan measure to increase direct payments to Americans from $600 to $2,000.  Democrats in both the House and Senate unanimously support the measure and President Trump has indicated he will sign it into law if it reaches his desk.

Democratic negotiators consistently called for larger direct payments in the COVID-19 Relief Package, but they were repeatedly shot down for months by Republicans who were involved in the process while President Trump himself sat on the sidelines.  The Washington Post reported that Trump’s own aides talked him out of making a public call for larger direct payments and the President declined to weigh in until after the bill landed on his desk.

Senator Reed stated: “It’s a shame President Trump failed to speak up earlier, but if he actually does his job now and convinces Republicans to vote for larger direct payments then bigger checks could start going out next week and provide an even greater and much needed economic lift to Americans and communities nationwide.  It’s not enough for President Trump to just sit in his Mar-A-Lago estate and send a few tweets.  He needs to be active and make a direct case to the American public and Republican lawmakers to pass this measure.  Democrats are with him on this, and, if he actually spoke up about it earlier, we probably could have gotten larger checks in the bill.”

Reed noted the 2021 Omnibus Appropriations bill and COVID-19 Relief Package includes direct payments of just $600 -- half the $1,200 amount provided for Americans under the CARES Act earlier this year -- but $600 more than Republicans were initially willing to provide.

“The $600 direct payments we managed to secure in the bill are certainly better than no payments at all.  But clearly this level of funding falls short of what Americans need during this pandemic.  The stock market may be doing okay, but the economy is weaker than it should be and middle- and low-income families are feeling the pinch,” said Reed.  “Congressional Republicans appear to be seeking to withhold this assistance to gain leverage over the incoming Administration, which is bad politics and bad policy.  This overdue economic stimulus will not only help individuals and families, it will also provide an important economic boost to businesses and communities.  I urge Republicans to join Democrats in passing a clean bill to increase direct payments so President Trump can sign it into law.”

The U.S. House of Representatives is scheduled to vote today at 5 p.m. on the measure.  An effort to pass it by unanimous consent in the House was blocked by Republicans.  So the House is bringing it to the floor under a procedure known as “suspension” that subjects the bill to a two-thirds vote for passage.  If it is approved by the House, the measure then goes to the U.S. Senate for consideration.